“As I stare at the ceiling, I think back to the day motherhood began for me.
It was a normal day. I lay in bed with my other half as we watch television and laugh at what I can’t quite remember. I turn to slide out of bed and feel a heaviness in my breast that just isn’t normal. I turn to him with curiosity in my eyes. ‘What if I am pregnant?’
He smiles and denies the claim. I utter, ‘Let’s be sure.’ I pull out a home pregnancy test, follow the instructions, and within seconds it reads positive. I have never been pregnant before and, in fact, at some point I thought it was out of the cards for me. I just knew the test had to be wrong.
Still not convinced, I had to make sure. So, in the wee hours of the night, we drove to a 24-hour grocery store to purchase another test. Before the sun rose, I had taken a total of four tests to confirm what I thought was in no way possible.
After every positive, my heart smiled more and more. ‘I can’t believe I am going to be a mom.’
My belly grew so gracefully. I had no real morning sickness, no excessive weight gain. None of the horror stories you hear about with pregnancy. Each visit, I was told I was more than healthy and my journey was moving along great. Then the little person in my belly revealed its gender and gained a name.
IT’S A GIRL and we will call her Madison Michelle Jones. M&M for short, or maybe MJ or Maddie. Who knows, I am just excited!
November 22, 2016 was her scheduled arrival date but Madison, like her mother, did things on her own terms. I stood before a 9 a.m. Biology lecture on my due date and briefed my students. ‘Though this is a biology course, we are not doctors. If I go into labor…just call 911.’
More days passed. My princess was just way too comfy in my belly, so an eviction notice had to be set on her behalf. I arrived at the hospital on December 2, 2016, so anxious to meet my baby girl. But Madison had her own agenda and refused to come out. They were going to have to go in and retrieve her.
December 4, 2016, at 1:07 a.m., after hours of labor, I gave birth via C-section to an 8-pound baby girl name Madison Michelle Jones. She was perfect.
She was long like her father, had skin like her mother, and a voice that could wake the neighborhood. I was a mom. A real mom! And I couldn’t believe something so perfect was all mine. Life was now all about her. She had me wrapped around her little finger the minute I saw her. We came to the hospital a duo and left a trio, ready to embark on life as a family.
On January 11, 2017, fresh into the new year, my baby girl and I rose as normal. I went to prepare her a bottle. As the bottle was warming, I opened the freezer and smiled like I had just found gold. And I did…it was liquid gold. Milk. I had a freezer full of pumped breast milk and felt so accomplished. I snapped a picture and was in a daze until the ruler of the house screamed out a cry as if she was trying to say, ‘Hurry up.’ Once the princess’ request was honored, the day proceeded as normal. However, Madison was a little fussier than usual throughout the day.
As my little princess began to settle, I laid her in her swing and she fell sound asleep. I kept my eye on her as she slept peacefully in her swing. I slowed it down to a gentle rock and snapped a quick photo of my precious baby girl. I didn’t know this would be the last picture I would ever take of her.
Around 8 p.m., I was conversing with a longtime friend. I glanced at the clock. I remembering saying, ‘Let me wake Madison so she can take her medicine and I can change her diaper.’ When I got to her, she felt lifeless in my arms.
I scream through the phone.
‘She is not breathing! She is not breathing!’
My friend shouts, ‘What?! Call 911!’
911 operator: ‘What’s your emergency?’
I scream, ‘My baby is not breathing!’
911 operator: ‘Okay, where is she? Do you know CPR? If not, don’t worry. We’ll walk you through it.’
‘Please help me! She is not breathing!’
911 operator: ‘Okay. Follow my instructions. Breath into her mouth…use your fingers. Pump her chest…medics are on their way.’
I breathe air into my child for an amount of time I can’t recall. A team of medics rush through the door with equipment bigger than her and begin working. I drop to my knees, praying to God not to take my baby as I scream, ‘Is she okay?’ Medics say they have a pulse and we have to get her to the hospital.
We drive to the nearby hospital at a speed too slow for me, but the speedometer reads 80. Then 90. We rush into the hospital to a team of doctors. They work on my baby. It’s an out-of-body experience. I see them working but everything is moving slow. I hear voices, I hear machines, but I’m listening for that cry I know. The cry for milk, the cry for me, any cry that sounds like hers.
But I hear nothing.
Everything pauses. No one is moving, no machines beeping, no more voices.
The doctor says the words ‘time of death’ out loud.
I fell to my knees. ‘God, why me?’ I beg the doctors to try just a little longer. They wrap her in a soft white blanket, slowly walking towards me as if presenting a gift. I push back pleading with tears. ‘Try harder!’ Everything is a blur until the moment I leave the hospital without her. Driving in silence, I pray it’s a nightmare we will wake from…but it’s real.
I lay in the bed and cover over my head in tears. ‘Why me?’ ‘What did I ever do so bad in my life for this to be my destiny?’ I remember saying, ‘God, I am SO MAD at you right now, but I need you more than ever. Help me, please!’ I awake to a home full of people, people who live hundreds of miles away. ‘I need water.’ There is that liquid gold, that milk I can never use. Tears begin to fall down my eyes and then anger sets in.
‘Get rid of it all of it. I don’t want to see anything.’
People began moving in a rush to undo a palace that belonged to a princess, piling all her things and closing the door that would be forbidden to enter.
‘Am I still a mother? I have no baby. She is gone.’
It’s MLK day. The day I lay my daughter to rest. I walk into a church full of family, friends, and people I don’t even know. I head towards the small casket at the front and there lies an angel. I have never seen beauty and peace like that. I cry, I scream, I feel numb. This isn’t real.
What is life after you lose a child? When people go home, the funeral passes, flowers die, and sympathy cards stop coming, do you move on too?
No. You live everyday wondering what life would have been like with them, who they would have been, why you, and how do you move forward. Thoughts of suicide creep into your mind. You blame yourself. Fear tries to take over and you have to learn how to live life again. Where is the manual for that? You search for support, for books, for stories like yours.
Then, you realize this pain is different. It’s too taboo for society. Too much of a roller coaster to gain control. You have to dig deeper and call on a being bigger than you, bigger than anyone, and his name is GOD.
I prayed, I prayed, and I prayed some more…for strength and peace. Strength on the days it was too much to bear and peace on the days I consumed myself in the WHY.
Two years have passed and not a day goes by where I don’t think of my Madison. But I am at peace. I rarely ask why. I allow her story to be heard.
My angel was brought here for such a short time and it was the best time of my life. Grief does not go away; it takes on the law of energy. It is simply transformed, showing up in different ways. We never get over the loss of a child, we just learn to cope with the missing piece in our life.
I vow to tell my story with the hope that it helps another angel mother and brings light to the story of the 1 in 4 women across the world who suffer loss and those who question, am I still a mother?
I am still a MOTHER…except my princess just watches over me.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Geneen D Fitchett of Charlotte, North Carolina. You can follow her journey on Instagram here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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